In my last blog I talked about my struggles with finding a CTO. In this blog I will talk about how I went about looking for a CTO. I believe everyone knows how important having a CTO is when building a startup. For a better view of the role of a CTO in a startup, please watch the video.
Around October of 2016, I realized that I needed some type of website to show people my vision of cavnessHR. I went to plenty of networking events and after talking about cavnessHR. The question would always be, can you show me your website. My answer of, I don't have one yet or I am still building one. Was not the best answer, especially, when I could see how interested they were in the concept.
So I decided to build one myself using one of the many website building sites available out there. I tried out Wix, Weebly and Squarespace. I looked at all the comparisons between them and read countless articles on them. Some were good for some items and others were good for other items. I looked at them as a way to build my website. None of them had what I was looking for in a website builder. Either, they were too generic or didn't provide me enough options to build my site. Or they were just a little too technical for me and did not provide a great user experience.
After this I went looking for more options. Two I looked at and liked were Webflow https://www.webflow.com. and IM Creator XPRS www.imcreator.com. Both provided great user experiences and provided tools to help you build the site. I did think that Webflow provided more tools such as youtube videos to show you how to use Webflow. From my point of view, Webflow was more for people who had a certain level of coding experience. While IM Creator XPRS was built for people like me who had no coding experience.
Based on these factors and that I liked the user experience just a little better and I was able to figure out how to build my site quicker. I went with IM Creator XPRS. After a few days figuring out IM Creator XPRS a little more. I had the initial version of cavnessHR up and running.
I was now able to show people my concept for cavnessHR using my new website. I was able to show basic concepts and talk about how I wanted to transform how HR is delivered to small business. I did find one developer who helped to make changes to the website. Such as adding Paypal and Stripe and other minor upgrades. With his help, I learned that the IM Creator XPRS website lacked the functionability that I knew was required for my vision for cavnessHR.
I decided to look at the following options for improving my website. Learn how to code, use one of the sites that allows you to build your site without coding and outsourcing.
I took coding classes on Lynda.com for various beginner coder classes. I also took classes on design. I was able to grasp the concepts behind coding and designing. I even completed some small coding exercises.
At the same time I did some research on building a website without coding. I looked at Bubble https://bubble.is and Weld https://www.weld.io. I started following Tara Reed @tarareed_ who built her MVP and was accepted into 500 Startups by using Bubble. Tara is a big advocate of building apps without code. Tara is also the CEO of Kollecto - www.Kollecto.com. I learned a lot from Tara during this time. She is actually doing a webinar on July 5 on how to make your own App. Go to her twitter @tarareed_ if you are interested.
As this was happening, I was also looking at various outsoucing options. I joined Founder2be at https://www.founder2be.com and CoFoundersLab at https://cofounderlab.com. Both are platforms that allow you to tell about your startup and what you are looking for in a cofounder. I received many inquiries from people wanting to be my cofounder. But based on what I could find about their skills. I didn't think any of them had what I was looking for in a CTO. I am still on both platforms and their are many interesting discussions on them and I continue to learn from these discussion.
I also used LinkedIn's Profinder in an attempt to find outsourced software development. I had 5 companies that do software development outsourcing reach out to me. I had some minor talks with them. Their prices ranged quite a bit from the lowest to the highest. I had some great talks with these companies about what I was looking for and what they could provide.
During this time I helped to judge a STEM Expo at the TAF Academy. www.techaccess.org/academy. Their twitter is @STEMbyTAF. Here I met a Senior Director of Technology for one of the larger tech companies in Seattle. I explained to him my concept and asked if I could have some of his time to explain further. He agreed and we set up a date/time location to meet. After our meeting, I believe he was intrigued by what I wanted to do. But he did not want to commit to being a CTO for a startup. He suggested that I obtain some paying customers to further validate my idea. Then we could revisit his possible role in cavnessHR.
I also talked to the former CTO of MyUnfold and got him up to speed on what I was doing. He gave me some great advice. He said I understand why you want to learn to code. But that is not what you do best. Focus on what you do best and the software development talent will find you. Spend the time you are spending on learning how to code and focus on building cavnessHR.
I took his advice and stopped learning how to code. I also took the advice of the Senior Director of Technology. I reached out to the people on CoFoundersLab, Founders2be and the companies on Profinder. I told them that before I went any further. I wanted to validate my business idea by gaining some actual paying customers.
After all this, I was still without a CTO or even any tech talent to help me build cavnessHR.
On my next blog, I will talk about how I found some talent to help me build out the cavnessHR website.
cavnessHR will provide value to Founders, new business owners and companies with less than 50 employees by assisting them with their HR and helping to solve other problems.